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The Exiled

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Hello everybody,

for a while now you have only really heard from us in forum posts and via support tickets. Sorry for the lack of info. We owe you a long blog post to explain what is currently going on in the distillery. Here it is:

Recap: The Last Months

In the weeks and months after launching The Exiled into Steam Early access we updated the game with larger updates for each new Season and smaller hotfixes in between. We added some new content, we tweaked the game balance and we fixed bugs. We also experimented a bit with our Trial period, giving out extra trial days and even making the trial last for a full month-long season.

But as anyone who can read a line chart[] can see, The Exiled does not currently have a large enough player base to sustain the game, let alone our development team. So in order to make up for the missing game revenue we had to do what all game developers do in such situations - we take on contract work to pay for our bills while working on the game in the time we have left.

And that worked really well. Sebi and I went from being 100% completely broke to being able to pay our rent on time again. We're now in a good groove that allows us to combine consulting gigs with working on The Exiled indefinitely. And so we can finally get back to work on making the game as good as we always wanted it to be. After all, we are in Early Access and we still have a lot to do.

Player Feedback and Developer Decisions

Since launching in Early Access we got a lot of feedback from our players. First of all: Thank you for that feedback! Even though sometimes emotions get a little heated and some Steam reviews are a bit hard to parse - you can still be sure that we read what you wrote and made sure to give your feedback thorough thought - especially those awesome, long forum posts where some of you spent a lot of time on analyzing the game. Thank you!

Most recently we invited you to take part in a Community Brainstorming. And while that was happening we did our own brainstorm sessions and jotted down a lot of ideas about where we should push the game in the future and how we can make sure to deliver the experience we want to create.

Before I get into the details of what we decided I want to address some very valid points of feedback and explain why we are NOT going to develop the game in that direction. Not because we do not think that these ideas are bad per se - they just do not fit our possibilities as a team and our vision for the game.

1.) "Make it more like a real MMORPG"'
We often get the request that we should do away with limited server lifetimes, add more PvE content to the game, more interesting mobs, quests, dungeons and a proper storyline, increase the size of the game worlds and add more concurrent players to each world. We are not going to do that. Why? One reason is purely practical and financial. We are a tiny, independent team with a very limited budget. We just cannot pay for the hundred of thousands of hours that go into the creation of large game worlds full of PvE content. We also think that we do not have to do that. There are already hundreds or large MMOs out there that deliver exactly that kind of "adventure in a huge world" experience. And we neither can nor want to compete with them on this experience. Both our team and our technology setup has not been designed for this approach and it never will be.

2.) "The game needs to be more responsive/lag-free/polished"'
This is a hard one for me because it is a very reasonable request. We are all used to an amazing amount of polish from the games we play these days. And while I would love to at some point have a game where each action feels as juicy as in a Diablo III and where the game controls are so amazingly tweaked as in Battlerite - this is again a tall order for a tiny team like ours. We will not be able to make sure that our game with its 100 to 200 concurrent players of pings between 30 and 300 feels as great as singleplayer game or one that has up to 4 players with perfect ping in its arenas. So while we will improve our experience here, we will also never hit the high bar that other games with different development focus can deliver.

Of course there were hundreds more suggestions that I have not discussed in detail here. Some of them are very doable and will make it into the game eventually. Others will never happen for similar reasons as stated above.

So now that we know what is not going to happen, let's talk about how The Exiled is going to change in the near future and why that is going to be awesome!

Enter Survival Mode

While The Exiled currently has many flaws, it also has some strengths. The one that we find the most important is that when the game works as intended, when you are in the game world for a few hours and you're engaged in PvP combat with and against other players, then it is a ton of fun. The times where PvE and gathering becomes a side-task and back-drop for your very immediate PvP experience is awesome.

The problem right now is that this experience is pretty rare. Many times we log into the game, run around, find only a few or no other players and then turn to farm some mob camp or collect resources. And that is just plain boring. So here is what we will do: In time for Season #7 (August) we will launch a new type of game worlds that we call "Survival Mode". Here is how they differ from the current game:

Focussed Action: Three Hours per Day

Survival Mode game worlds will only be accessible for players for a short time per day (currently we think 3 hours). How does that make the game better? Simple, it makes sure that we are all in the game at the same time and that finding opponents for PvP is way more likely. And this ensures that we do not have to fall back to the rather boring "farm some stuff" mode of being.

Yes, we have to get a lot of details right here. For example we need to get your feedback on during which times our game worlds should be online for each continent and time zone. A survey about this will go out to you soon. And yes, we know that some players will not like this idea at first. But please: Give it a try and then decide if you like the new experience or not. And yes: We will have an offer for those of you who just cannot play during the final time slots.

Limited Lives

Survival mode also comes with a gameplay tweak that you already know from our "world end" event: On Survival Mode worlds you will have a limited amount of lives. Every time your character dies, you lose a life. And if you run out of lives, you have to take a break from playing. You're out of the game. But of course we will make sure that lives are not suuuper scarce and that they refill over time (current plans: 6 lives max and you get 3 new lives per day). And we will make sure to give new players a lot of extra lives so they can find into the game (which requires some extra dying) before they run out of lives. This small change will make PvP a lot more adrenaline-filled as it currently is and that is exactly how we want the game to be.

Thirst: Get some water!

This feature was often requested by players but it only makes sense now in conjunction with the 3-hour time windows and Limited Lives: On Survival Mode worlds you will need to find an oasis at regular intervals and stock up on water. If you do not get to an oasis in time to quench your thirst you will slowly loose health and eventually die. And yes, oases will be relatively rare and you might actually have to negotiate or fight to access once. Which is great in our book since we want to have even more interaction between players in the game.

The Way Forward

So this is it, now you know our plans going forward. Of course we're also working on some smaller and bigger bug-fixes, performance improvements and balance tweaks. But Survival Mode will be our focus for the coming months. We will release more detailed info about it over the coming weeks and we will make sure to discuss it with you in detail and take in your feedback. After all, this is Early Access. We know that big changes like this are sometimes painful but we're also committed to being here and to discuss it in detail with you.

So please make sure to head over to the forums and talk to us about Survival Mode.

See you in the game!

Fairytale Distillery
(Alex & Sebi)
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